The leader of the National Unity Platform(NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has said the indefinite suspension of several NGOs by government will have a chilling effect on the legitimate exercise of citizens’ constitutional right to participate in the affairs of their government.
Kyagulanyi made the remarks shortly after the government closed at least 54 NGOs including Chapter Four, headed by renowned human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo and CCEDU for not submitting annual returns, among other reasons.
In a statement, Kyagulanyi said he condemns this ban in the strongest terms possible, noting that most of the affected organisations have been working to deepen constitutionalism, democracy, human rights, and public accountability in our country.
In the recent past particularly during the 2021 electoral period, some of these organisations were raided by security agencies, and/or had their bank accounts arbitrarily frozen by the Financial Intelligence Authority.
Chapter Four’s Nicholas Opiyo, who was doing work around the November shooting-deaths of over 100 unarmed citizens by security forces, was abducted and a slew of charges eventually preferred against him.
In the previous election cycle, NGOs including Action Aid International and GLISS suffered a similar fate when they were raided by the military who seized their property, especially communication devices.
Early this year, President Museveni ordered the closure of the Democratic Governance Facility, Uganda’s biggest donor fund, what Kyagulanyi described as basing on false rumours that it was funding him.
Kyagulanyi said that DGF had been funding a huge chunk of the budget of several government organs and agencies as well as hundreds of civil society organisations.
“Considering the work that the affected organisations have been involved in, including that of defending the rights of poor and underserved citizens, it is quite evident that this latest crackdown on civil society is politically-motivated,”said Kyagulanyi.
He said the regime considers as “anti-government” civil society’s work of checking government excesses and influencing public policies.
“Apparently, this work is tantamount to colluding with the opposition. I stand in solidarity with you my fellow citizens in the civil society during this trying moment and support all lawful efforts you are taking to resist undue encroachment on your constitutional space,” he said.
He said challenges like these are only testament to the importance of their efforts in establishing a more just and accountable society.